Thursday, March 17, 2011

This is the day that ESPN goes off on the Astros

First, Justin Ray talks about the starters:

The Houston Astros had one of the worst offenses in baseball last season, scoring just 3.8 runs per game en route to a fourth place finish in the NL Central. So just imagine how bad they would have been without a pitching staff that ranked sixth in the National League in ERA and opponent batting average after the All-Star Break.

And Jay Jaffe in an (Insider-Only) article blasts the offense. Here's your close:
It's not as though the Disastros can wait for the minor league cavalry to ride to the rescue, as none of their top hitting prospects have played above High-A ball. No matter how good that rotation is, it's going to be a rough, low-scoring year for Astros fans.

Jerry Crasnick has a rather complimentary article on the Astros' pitchers. And we learn that Wesley Wright is about to be a sidearm.

Kvasnicka is the NYPL's 16th-best prospect, apparently.

The NYPL Report is listing the 30 best prospects, and Mike Kvasnicka is #16:

Kvasnicka is already a real good hitter. He switch hits and has tons of bat speed from both sides of the plate. To go along with that, he has great arm strength. Thus it doesn't really where he plays on the field. However, it's likely not going to be at catcher.

Meat Wagon Update

And using the same link as before, we have some Meat Wagon updates:

Wandy played catch yesterday, and will have a bullpen session tomorrow as he tries to get over that "mild" tendinitis (which sounds to me like "mild diarrhea." There's nothing mild about that. At all.)

Angel Sanchez was out again with a back sprain - the second time he has sprained a muscle.

Michael Bourn was out of the lineup for the third straight game with an "illness."

And the corn-cobbing starts...now

Levine notes that Fox Sports Houston will actually be showing fewer Astros games this season, 22 fewer than in 2010, as a matter of fact. Twenty-four games will be on KTXH.

That said, at least all of them will be in HD.

The most terrifying sentence you'll read all day

Want to read something scary? How about this, from Zach Levine:

Should non-roster invitee Anderson Hernandez lose out to any of the righties like Tommy Manzella, Angel Sanchez and Matt Downs, and Carlos Corporan not catch on behind the plate, then the best switch-hitter on the team could likely be pitcher Wandy Rodriguez.

God help us.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Bourn out, Steele in

Michael Bourn is out for today's game against the Nationals, and T.J. Steele will take his place. According to Levine, Bourn is scratched with some sort of illness.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Is Ed Wade actually getting some credit here?

The Delaware County Daily Times almost has a love letter to Ed Wade, thanking him for the current state of the Phillies' organization.

On Wade:
With the recent signing of manager Charlie Manuel to a two-year contract extension and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. to a four-year deal, the Phillies rewarded their two most important non-players for their contributions to the success of the franchise.

Neither would have been in a position to succeed were it not for one man – a guy often criticized publicly, but who actually set the wheels in motion for the baseball renaissance that has engulfed Philadelphia the last few years...

...So if the 2011 Phillies go on to another championship with the same core and people start talking about erecting statues and renaming streets around Citizens Bank Park, they should at the very least name the adjacent parking lot after Ed Wade.

Jonathan Mayo's Top 10 Prospects

MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo drops his Top 10 Astros prospect list, and he kind of takes a dump on Keith Law's Top 10 list. Here's the short version:

1. Jordan Lyles - Even if he goes back to Triple-A, he'll be in Houston at some point in 2011.
2. Delino DeShields - He should hit the ground running with Class A Lexington this year.
3. Jonathan Villar - He has a plus arm and range, and can steal bases, but he's still very raw, striking out too much and making mistakes in the field as well.
4. Mike Foltynewicz - All he needs is experience to refine his stuff, and he has the chance to be a frontline starter in the future.
5. Jiovanni Mier - Now with Villar to push him, it will be interesting to see what year No. 2 has to offer.
6. Tanner Bushue - All of his pitches show flashes. Added consistency, and strength, should help him move up the ladder.
7. Ariel Ovando - He's just 17, and Astros fans will likely get to see him at a short-season club this summer.
8. J.D. Martinez - Even if he starts back in Double-A, Martinez could help out in Houston by the end of the season.
9. Jimmy Paredes - A switch-hitter, he's largely played second base, but a now-healed shoulder should allow him to play on the left side of the infield in 2011, as he moves up to the California League.
10. Austin Wates - He may not have a ton of power, but his speed should make him a good basestealer. It also should allow him to play a decent center field.

Towles "feels good"

The Orlando Sentinel has a nice little article on the Astros' catching situation, in which they get some nice quotes from J.R. Towles:

“This year I got to work out a lot more and get bigger and stronger. I feel good coming in and I’m just going to continue to do the things I need to do behind the plate. I need to build better relationships with the pitchers and just do whatever I can [to improve].”

Mills wants to make sure it's not deja vu:
“J.R., so far, he’s having a good spring. Now he had a real good spring last year and was our Opening Day catcher. So we’re looking forward for him to continue to swing the bat and play well, catch well and continue to get better as he’s done so far this spring.”

Seaton to Corpus Christi?

Stephen Goff has an interview with Bobby Heck regarding Ross Seaton.

Heck:
"I expect him to be in Corpus Christi this year. He's only 21-years-old. If he had gone to college, he would be entering the Draft this year. To be pitching at the Double-A level at 21 is really good. I think he's had some setbacks. A lot of it has been him answering the bell on some things and making adjustments to his game. I think we're satisfied with the path he has taken."

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Playoff Teams

And The Constable drops his second post on the Chronicle today, examining some trends among the eight 2010 playoff teams. It has four hits. Throw him a bone.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Of course you know this means War

Hang on, did Bill Hall put a bounty on Cole Hamels after a little altercation mid-AB in the second inning? Apparently, Hamels threw a pitch anyway after Hall called time, where Hall had to be restrained by the home plate umpire during the shouting match.

Hall:
"I’m not going to let him speed-pitch me. Obviously, he threw a pitch in, and I’m not going to let him disrespect me either. He kind of said something that I didn’t like too much. It’s over with....He’s definitely a marked man for me now, so when I do some damage off him, I’m going to let him know I did some damage off him. I can guarantee that."

Obviously, I wasn't there, and haven't seen any video replays yet. But if it takes Hall getting "disrespected" to fire up the team - even if it's in Spring Training - I'm all for it. I'm also just curious as to just how Bill Hall will let Hamels know that he is disrespecting him. Take a poll! (And use of the "home run" term carries an implied, "Should it happen...")


Wow, the Astros really screwed this guy on Fan Appreciation Day

David Barron has an interesting article about the Astros' Fan Appreciation Day. On Fan Appreciation Day, the IRS appreciates you!

[Bob] Choate, 56, of Houston last fall won a year's supply of coupons from Shipley's Do-Nuts as one of the lucky prize-winners during Astros Fan Appreciation Day at Minute Maid Park.

"I went up to the customer service window, fat, dumb and happy, and signed a form and picked up a fistful of certificates, each good for a free doughnut or a dozen doughnut holes and one free cup of coffee," he said.

But last month, much like the Grim Reaper, the punch line to his prize landed in Choate's mailbox: an Internal Revenue Service Form 1099, informing him that he owed taxes on $927.61 in "free" coffee and doughnuts.

"Right," Choate said. "Fan Appreciation Day. We appreciate you, oh, and by the way …"


Tip-top work, Astros.

No one seems to be too upset about Wandy's shoulder

Alden Gonzalez' story on Wandy's shoulder would lead the reader to believe that it's not that big of a deal:

How high is your Alert Level, Mills?
"Right now, it's not very high. When he came in today, I asked if he'd come into the office and visit, and he did and we sat and talked a little bit, and as long as he's not concerned, I'm not concerned as much."

Wandy:
"I feel it only in like my sixth throw. But later, when I throw about six or more, when my arm feels a little bit more [loose], I don't feel nothing. It's only when I start to throw."

Optionless Astros

MLBTR has a nice list of everyone who is out of options. This means that, if the Astros send them to the minors, then they have to clear waivers first.

Who's on this list?
Alberto Arias
Nelson Figueroa
Jeff Keppinger
Humberto Quintero
Ryan Rowland-Smith
Angel Sanchez

Of this list, the only players who run the risk of getting sent down are really Arias and Sanchez. Of those two, would they clear waivers? Sanchez might, but I'm not so sure about Arias (though his injury may scare off enough teams).

Cuts!

The Astros have made their first round of cuts this morning.

Those who will head on over the minor-league side of the field:
Doug Arguello
David Carpenter
Cesar Carrillo
Koby Clemens
Jorge De Leon
Brian Dopirak
Rene Garcia
Jon Gaston
Arcenio Leon
J.D. Martinez
Jiovanni Mier
Jimmy Paredes
Jose Carlos Thompson

Nothing too shocking here. Rene Garcia was never a threat to open the season behind the plate for the Astros. I thought Arcenio Leon had an outside shot at the Opening Day roster, but otherwise, all expected.

John Moores interested in buying Astros, but there's a catch

John Moores is the majority owner of the Padres. He also has interest in the Astros. But he can't (potentially) buy the Astros until he transfers/sells his majority stake of the Padres to minority owner Jeff Moorad.

When will that happen? Well, they have three years to complete the deal, but Moorad says it won't happen before Opening Day:
"We may very well accelerate it, but we've made no decision on when that will be."

Monday Morning Catch-Up

A summary of what you (and we) missed over the weekend:

-Brian McTaggart has a sweet profile on our mate, Ryan Rowland-Smith

-Mike Barnett has the Astros working on situational hitting.

-Rough news about Wandy, he'll miss his next start, with shoulder tendinitis.

-Danny Knobler has a story on Brett Wallace, and one where he lists his likes and dislikes about the Astros.